International Series: Rhama’s Journey

Vedika Vinayak, Writer

We all know the stresses of moving from one house to another, one school to the next, or even shifting friend groups! All of these circumstances are incredibly stressful, but just imagine how much more nervous you would be if you moved from country to country! This was exactly the type of situation Rhama Brightwell, an FHS junior, was in.

Rhama Brightwell first moved from England to America when she was 6 months old; then, in the summer of high school, she moved to Germany, only to come back two years later. Like many teenagers, Rhama was excited about immersing herself in a new culture and lifestyle but at the same time, was nervous to join a new school. However, all that nervousness disappeared as she made new friends in Germany.

Rhama Brightwell
An aspect of the unique culture of Berlin, Germany

Moving to Franklin from Germany was a much more predictable and comfortable change for Rhama; although she originally lived on the west coast, “it felt like home to be back in the USA where you know what to expect with basically everything,” Rhama says.

Rhama Brightwell
An evening in Berlin, Germany

Expectedly, schools across the world are very different. Rhama didn’t know how welcoming everyone would be in the USA or what to expect from Franklin High. In Germany, extra-curricular activities are very uncommon, excluding sports. Schools are also less structured in Germany: they don’t count absences, lunch is over an hour, and 15 minutes are granted between classes. Typically, class (in Germany) is used to work on essays and projects and is never spent doing worksheets and listening to the teacher talk as you learn by doing your research. Tests are very uncommon as you are assessed on projects. Also, class sizes are much smaller, usually containing a maximum of 12 people. Finally, final quarter/semester grades are not determined by an average and are determined by what the teacher thinks you deserve. Personally, Rhama prefers this school system much better than the American system.

Surprisingly, Rhama found moving much easier than expected. Unlike how many people say that moving

Rhama Brightwell
Berlin Potsdamer Platz Bahnhof, a completely underground railway station in Berlin, Germany

as a teen is one of the hardest things they’ve had to go through, Rhama found that moving hasn’t been as hard for her. This is mainly because moving excites her and she likes learning about new places, meeting new people, and seeing the opportunities that a place has to bring. “However, it also has surprised me how welcoming everyone is, no matter if it’s in school or just around town, every place I have moved people are always extremely welcoming which makes moving a lot easier,” Rhama explains about the moving process, the people, and what surprised her most.

Rhama credits much of her open-minded point of view and curiosity to moving. She gained friends that live all over the world and all have unique cultures which opened her eyes to learn that there’s a lot more to the world than just American culture. “Before moving to Germany, I was very naive to how different cultures were but now I feel like a much more international individual,” Rhama describes herself, post-moving. Influenced by moving, Rhama plans to study international business in college as well as to take a gap year to explore the world and learn about different cultures first hand. Rhama is also more confident in herself now, after living abroad and taking on a whole new culture and lifestyle.